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FAO’s support to agricultural transformation in Rwanda

20/12/2017

Food security, nutrition and sustainable agricultural growth are clear priorities in Rwanda’s new Strategic Plan for Agriculture Transformation (PSTA 4), which emphasizes innovative, green and market-led production.

The Government of Rwanda is advancing the development of PSTA 4, with technical assistance from FAO and other partners and financial support from the European Union.

Agriculture remains the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, accounting for about one-third of the country’s gross domestic product and employing a little over two-thirds of the labour force.

It is recognized as a key sector and major engine for the structural transformation of Rwanda’s economy, contributing to economic growth, food security, improved nutrition and new jobs for a young and growing population.

PSTA 4 represents the sector’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) investment plan, proposing the agriculture sector’s public investment envelop for the next six years. It will become operational in June 2018, when PSTA 3 expires.

PSTA 4 is the main operational policy framework for agricultural development in Rwanda, supporting implementation of the newly approved National Agriculture Strategy and Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation, currently under development.

“This plan is focused less on infrastructure, which the Government has already invested widely in, and more on promoting an enabling environment, such as efficient institutions, knowledge capital, private sector involvement, quality and value addition, climate-smart agriculture and resilience,” said Arnaud de Vanssay, Head of Section, Rural Development in the Delegation of the European Union to Rwanda.

“It’s a qualitative shift that should bring the transformation necessary to achieve Rwanda’s Vision 2050,” he added, referring to the country’s plan to ensure a higher living standard for all Rwandans. “It should help convince funders, both domestically and internationally, that it is more than worthwhile investing in Rwandese agriculture.”

All hands on deck

Developing a strategic sectoral investment plan such as PSTA 4 requires diverse insights and perspectives. FAO Rwanda and the FAO Investment Centre coordinated inputs from various FAO colleagues whose expertise helped improve the Plan’s technical quality and feasibility to reach the desired development impacts.

Studies undertaken by FAO’s Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) team contributed to the value chain analyses. MAFAP’s paper on the impact of the Government’s Crops Intensification Programme on nutritional outcomes also informed discussions on the design of future government support to production.

FAO’s Subregional Office for Eastern Africa provided inputs on how PSTA 4 can reduce Rwanda’s relatively high stunting levels, which currently stand at 38 percent despite impressive agricultural production growth.

Colleagues working on the FAO strategic programme to make agriculture more productive and sustainable provided substantial support throughout the process, focusing on sustainable production issues and contributing to broader strategic thinking.

The Plan also benefited from the expertise of other FAO strategic programme teams, namely in understanding the important role agriculture plays in reducing extreme poverty, including the role of social protection, and in facilitating linkages with ongoing work to harmonize trade and agriculture policies.

FAO’s Forestry Department provided valuable inputs linking PSTA 4 interventions to ongoing agroforestry policy formulation, while the Organization’s Animal Production and Health Division provided suggestions on animal resources development, looking specifically at animal and public health.

The contributions made by colleagues across FAO to PSTA 4 have been impressive and are testimony to the Organization’s ability to provide high quality technical advice on a broad range of topics.

The drafting team is also collaborating with other development partners, including the European Union, World Bank, US Agency for International Development, UK’s Department for International Development and its Technical Assistance Facility (AgriTAF). Various consultations have taken place with farmer organizations, women’s groups and the private sector.

“The policy and strategic environment in Rwanda is strong,” Attaher Maiga, FAO Representative in Rwanda, said. “The PSTA 4 was formulated under an inclusive consultative process and provides precisely the necessary guideline for investments in Rwandan agriculture during the forthcoming period.”

The PSTA 4 will undergo a CAADP/NEPAD independent technical review before being finalized and presented to the Rwandan parliament for endorsement.

The approved and costed PSTA 4 will provide the starting point for budget preparations by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and its agencies as part of Rwanda’s domestic budget allocation process. PSTA 4 will guide development partners’ support to the sector for the next six years.